Curriculum Theory / EDUC-910 Week 2 Readings

Curriculum theory… can there be only one?

Diamonti, M. (1977). Yes, we have no curriculum theory: Response to Herbert Kliebard. Curriculum inquiry, 6(4), 269–276.

My scrapbook notes…

Kliebard discussed there being a dichotomy of a theorist or a practitioner? Really? Why can’t someone be both?

[T]he origins of curriculum as a field of study can be traced to the borrowing of assumptions and methods from other fields and disciplines-most notably, business management and psychology (p. 270).

Much further surely? Historians and the developers? Is there enough to curriculum to yield a substantial theory of the field?

[T]heories are formed as a result of man’s need to understand and explain his natural, social, and personal condition… It is only when a theory’s explanatory power breaks down that we reflect on the human, natural, or physical condition that it is supposed to explain. (pp. 270–271)

That aspect of the human condition that involves curriculum has to do with man’s attempts to determine how to educate his children. (p. 271)

Absolutely do not agree with the above. Surely this is more to do with having a functioning society. Education of children may be the major part, but not the only part. There’s not just pedagogy involved, andragogy exists too. Why does everybody only talk about pedagogy?

The most appropriate sense of the word theory is “any more or less systematic analysis of a set of related concepts.” Debatable.

Diamonti go’s on to say that the more empirically based scientific definition of theory cannot apply, because curriculum theory does not lend itself to empirical verification.

Er, why not? Isn’t that just due to the lack of ingenuity on the part of investigative protocol? Also, I have a problem with Diamonti’s constant use of the word child; child learners are not the alpha and omega of curriculum.

John Dewey

John Dewey

John Dewey’s gradual progressiveness—evolutionary versus revolutionary—learning.

Diamonti asks, “[a]t what stage is revolution cognitively and developmentally appropriate?” (p. 272)

What’s wrong with when it comes?

A theory should be the summation of evidence, presented in a manner which accepts and agrees with that evidence to an optimal fit.

My for instance: classic Newtonian physics does not altogether agree with ideas of Quantum theory which saw practical use in the 1930s during the development of the sustained nuclear chain reaction. Yet the two together form what we generally refer to as the Standard Model of Physics. We await an all-encompassing, unifying theory. Yet we employ physics to great practical application every day.

Evolution—practical applications abound, observable, falsifiable, replicable, predictable, evidence-based since 1859. Yet we still build on it and refine the details of how it works.

Put simply, how is the transition from what Dewey calls occupations to subject matter or organized knowledge to be achieved? (p. 272)

Career progression has always been an issue. Apprentice—Journeyman—Master: Human populations have sought to address that since we invented the wheel.

What keeps Dewey/open-education from degenerating into a miasma of mixed disciplines, unable to reach advanced levels?

Arbitrary standards. Human society is in the business of assigning arbitrary standards. We always have been. For instance the age of consent to sexual intercourse. When does an embryo become a fetus, become a baby, become a toddler, become a pre-teen, become an adolescent, become a young adult, become an adult, become middle-aged, become elderly? Define the exact point of these boundaries and provide an age of consent to fit all individuals. Not possible. Thus, arbitrary boundaries are applied.

[T]hose who believe that individual differences are important determinants of rate and capacity, and that there are significant differences within the general population, would not be as persuaded by this aspect of Dewey’s theory as I am. (p. 274)

This paper is showing its age here. 1970s—a belief that there are individual differences?

Can there ever be a curriculum theory? Hasn’t Pinar (1975) got pretty close to that, with the complicated conversation (currere)?

Curriculum has no parent discipline. True, but there exists many parents. An interrelated family of disciplines.

It was Dewey who said “philosophy is the general theory of education.” I suspect, mixed with the politics of the time, it is also the general theory of curriculum. (p. 276)

Although, the question occurs. why is it necessary to have a general theory of curriculum? Curriculum is a complex melange of topics. Why must it be arbitrarily bounded?


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